Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline defunded following state budget cuts

People took to the streets in Iowa City for a “Take Back the Night” event during Sexual Assault Activism Month in 2016. — photo by Emma Kraus

The Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) announced Friday that the statewide hotline it has hosted since 1999 will be defunded as of October 1 this year following cuts totaling one quarter of the state funding for victim services.

The Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline provides 24-hour confidential counseling and support for anyone impacted by sexual violence, either directly or indirectly. The hotline gives callers information to help connect them with local services and provides roll-over services to other Iowa centers, answering their hotlines during non-business hours, weekends and holiday.

Calls to the hotline increased by 647 percent in the past two years, according to an RVAP press release, and the hotline is expected to receive almost 4,000 calls this fiscal year.

The hotline is not the only service impacted by the cut of roughly $1.7 million. According to an April press release from the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the funds also support housing assistance, safety planning for families, sexual violence prevention programs for schools and other aid for individuals impacted by domestic and sexual violence.

RVAP posted a request for donations on its Facebook page along with the announcement of the defunding. The organization is also hosting a Race to Zero virtual 5K throughout the month of June to raise awareness and funding for its programs.

Editor’s Note: Little Village reached out to representatives from RVAP and other state organizations, but did not receive comments by the time of publication. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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